President Museveni has encouraged Ugandans to use the opportunities created by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government to engage in activities that create wealth for socio-economic transformation.
While launching the Next Media Park located at Naguru Hill in Kampala, President said the policy of liberalization was aimed at among others things; bettering service delivery through wealth creation because the previous governments had not correctly analyzed how to create wealth and jobs.
Next Media Services is a multimedia company with a range of brands in Television, Radio and communications which include among others; NBS Television, Sanyuka TV, NBS Sport, Nile Post Salam TV and Next Radio and are employing over 500 Ugandans, mostly the youth.
President re-echoed the four (4) sectors of jobs and wealth creation namely; commercial agriculture, manufacturing/industries, services like communication and entertainment, transport, hospitality and the fourth one being Information Communication Technology-ICT which some Ugandans like Kin Kariisa, the group Chief Executive Officer of Next Media Services and colleagues have taken advantage of.
“So, therefore, those who are wasting our time talking about everything, this is the way to go. NRM has created all these opportunities. What the Kariisas have done is “Okulembeka”-to take opportunity and create wealth through service provision. And by creating wealth they have also created jobs. I want to salute Kariisa and his colleagues,” Museveni said.
According Gen. Museveni, the past governments had monopolized some of these services like the business of hotels and transport but later they were given to the private people to run them both for efficiency but also as a signal for private investors to come in and build more.
He further noted that he stood his ground amidst a big cabinet debate to allow private media to operate in Uganda especially at a time when Light House Television, a Christian channel wanted to provide TV and radio services in Uganda.
“The debate was, if you lose the monopoly of information, the government will collapse! I said no I cannot collapse unless I had a heart problem in the first place. They would tell lies, I would answer them,” Gen. Museveni noted, adding that by that time they did believe that the government should not block/obstruct (okutarirana-in Lunyankore) the private sector but to give them freedom to move into these businesses including the media.
“By encouraging liberalization, you can see how much energy we have unleashed, like this group of Mr Kariisa and his colleagues. They have now come in because it’s a free space, you can come and start a private radio and a TV station. Both the law and the policy allow it,” Museveni said.
On the issue of content, the President called upon media houses to promote Uganda and stop de-campaigning policies aimed at transforming the economy.
“I have not been watching NBS recently but I hope as Mr Kasumba has said, that they’re promoting Uganda, and if they are doing that, that’s very good,” Mr. Museveni noted.
He made mention of his initiative of adding value to coffee so that Uganda can earn more which was misunderstood and therefore received negative publicity from the media.
The President said the coffee business in the world is 460 billion US dollars but the coffee growing countries in the world, Uganda inclusive only share 25 billion US dollars of which only 2.5 billion US dollars is coming to Africa and Uganda is only sharing 800 billion US dollars.
“How can this be? Are there educated people in Africa? How can it be that Germany earns more from coffee than almost all the African countries combined?” Gen. Museveni wondered, adding that this undermines point No.5 of the NRM’s 10-point program of Building an economy which is integrated, independent and self-sustaining.
“This was our line to add value to coffee and textile. The shirt I’m putting on is produced from our cotton. So, therefore, its not just these assets, its is now the content of what the assets will be used for,” the President said.
According to the Next Media CEO Kin Kariisa, although the President has occasionally labeled the media rumor mongers, they’re determined to share the narrative and tell the Ugandan story.
“I could not allow foreign media to come here and tell us how to behave, dress and how our culture should be handled. We said let’s build our own media house to be able to shape our own future and narrative. We can do more to nature and transform this country,” Kin Kariisa said.
The Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, the Minister of state for investment Evelyn Anite and the Board Chairman Next Media Rogers Baguma also addressed the gathering.
In attendance, were among others; the Chief Justice of Uganda Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, the Titular head of Muslims in Uganda, Prince Kassim Nakibinge, the Executive Director Uganda Media Center Ofwono Opondo, KCCA ED Dorothy Kisaka and Presidential Advisor on Trade & Industry Amelia Kyambadde.